SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — To protect homeowners from what San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos is calling “unfair and unlawful” practices by lenders, Avalos introduced a resolution Tuesday calling for a moratorium on home foreclosures and related evictions and auctions.
According to an audit commissioned by San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting on nearly 400 San Francisco foreclosures over the past three years, 84 percent of those forecloses were incorrect or illegal.
Thousands of San Franciscans have had their homes foreclosed upon and auctioned off at City Hall, where local activists and community organizers held a news conference today to speak about what they saw have been unlawful foreclosures.
Many San Franciscans who can afford to stay in their homes now find that they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are actually worth, a situation referred to as being “under water.”
“We are drowning in our mortgages, and we have to find relief,” Avalos said, noting that he is approximately $100,000 under water on his mortgage.
“We need to fight back,” Avalos said. “Fighting back to make sure that we can have a future for our children and their future as well.”
His resolution, introduced at Tuesday afternoon’s Board of Supervisors meeting, urges the mayor to direct city lobbyists to support the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, several bills that would protect Californians against predatory lending practices and against robo-signing—the practice of signing large numbers of documents without verifying their information, and other bank servicing and foreclosure misconduct.
Last month, state Attorney General Kamala Harris was among 49 state attorneys general supporting a $25 billion agreement reached between the nation’s five largest lenders, the federal government and the states.
The joint agreement, which aims to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses, is the largest federal-state civil settlement ever reached, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Avalos’ resolution—which also has the support of Supervisors David Campos, Eric Mar, David Chiu, Jane Kim and Christina Olague—supports Harris’ call for the suspension of foreclosures.
Molly Martin, an organizer with Occupy Bernal, formed to fight predatory lending in that neighborhood, said the banks “have torn apart our communities … by unjustly foreclosing (upon) and evicting our neighbors from their homes.
“Foreclosures affect us all,” Martin said, noting that they have been disproportionately affecting people of color. “That character of our neighborhoods is changing.”
Several people who have been foreclosed upon, including Bernal Heights resident of 32 years Ernesto Viscarra, spoke at Thursday afternoon’s news conference on the steps of City Hall.
Viscarra said that he has been trying to modify or refinance since 2008 but that the bank responds to his requests for loan modifications by saying it is not able to find a loan scenario “to fit your express interests.”
“We’re not asking for a handout,” Viscara said. “We (are) asking for a reduction or modifying (of) loans.”
His home was to be auctioned off Tuesday, but the auction was postponed.
Campos, whose district includes several neighborhoods adversely impacted by what he called a “systemic problem” of foreclosures, said that the banks have only weakly responded to the community’s call to put an end to its current foreclosure practices.
“They haven’t done enough,” he said. “All we have seen is a postponement of these foreclosures. A postponement is not enough.”
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